"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

17 December 2012

ARC Review: Pantomime - Laura Lam

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

My Review of Pantomime (5*)

Why did this book have to end? Seriously, why? As I came to the last page I felt as if I was coming to the end of a whirlwind romance and I would never feel the enjoyment and amazement that I experienced at first sight again. Pantomime blew me away, under, over and afar, and is most definitely a contender for my favourite book of the year. Beautifully written, Pantomime is a fantastically original story with an exquisite cast of characters and a hypnotising storyline. Laura Lam has created a vivid world full to the brim with excitement and delivers a spectacular original story about belonging and being true to oneself. Her stark, clever and brave debut is truly beautiful in every way and I applaud her for creating a story that challenges stereotypes and discusses freedom and equality whilst delivering a dramatic and fixating storyline.

The Victorian, steampunk setting of Ellada was enchanting and the atmosphere of the carnival in particular amazed me and was instantly infectious. Rich, bright and lively, the otherworldly setting of the carnival was a magical place, where anything and everything is possible. With its freak show, aerialists, clowns etc, the circus was an array of fantastical people surrounded by secrecy, lies, drama and intrigue.
The carnival, in my opinion stands as a microcosm for the world and society in general. It symbolises the fact that everyone is different but also stands as a masquerade; everyone is hiding in plain sight, trying to fit in and belong just as others are trying to/being forced to in the world. Beneath the fancy tricks and glamour there is also dissent, lies and danger making the carnival a treacherous place, masquerading as a bright and magical place. But in other ways the carnival can be seen as a place of freedom where people can live on their own terms and truly belong.

The Vestige, seemingly magical objects were extremely intriguing. I wasn’t sure whether they were magical objects losing their power or objects of technology/electricity from our time, losing power in the future as magic seeped out of the world bit by bit. The Penglass were also mysterious buildings dotted around the various cities. I loved the mystery surrounding the seemingly magical artifacts such as the Vestige and Penglass and hope that more is revealed to use in the next book.

The book was filled with a wealth of characters, all different and varying in personality and all with secrets and tales of their own. We meet young Micah Grey who tries to flee his former life and become a member of the carnival as a trainee aerialist. He longs to truly belong in life and sees the carnival as a fresh start, a chance to start over and live life on his own terms. We also meet Iphigenia, or Gene for short, a noble girl of high standing, who is tired of trying to fit in and loves nothing more than climbing, discussing history, running around outside with her brother and his friends and diving into pools without a care in the world; in other words doing everything a noble girl shouldn't be doing.

 The romance that blossomed throughout the story was sweet and touching, and seemed to focus on companionship and having a friend to talk to and spend valuable time with. All in all, I loved the characters and was instantly drawn in to their complex and intense lives and shared in their hopes and dreams and disappointments. Not much can be said about the characters without revealing too much but prepared to be shocked and wowed.

This book was exquisite. Absolutely exquisite. As I neared the end I sighed knowing that I had no sequel to devour. Pantomime was truly enchanting and its vivid, poignant portrayal of belonging and equality is a testament to Laura Lam’s brilliant storyline as she delivers a powerful debut. It might not be to everyone’s tastes. Some might find it shocking and put it down without another glance. But others will relish the captivating story that sits within the pages of this great book and will welcome with open arms the strong, complex characters and their complicated, shocking secrets and lies. Pantomime will tug on your heart strings and make you re-think your views and opinions and its challenging storyline will sweep you up and take you on one breath taking journey. What a journey it was!

1 comment:

  1. You write such great reviews. Like honestly, some of the best I read. This sounds like a wonderful book! Added to the TBR pile!


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